Lee Valley Tools Woodworking Newsletter
Vol. 3, Issue 3
January 2009
How to Use Cut Nails

Cut nails
Traditionally, cut nails were an important part of the furniture-maker's toolkit. Used properly, they have impressive holding power.

For most modern furniture makers, interlocking wooden joints are almost always preferred to joints reinforced with a metal fastener such as a screw or a nail. But it wasn't always that way.

Anyone who has studied antiques knows that fine furniture was built using lots of nails, and not just for affixing moldings. Even in joints that were assembled with glue, nails were added as reinforcement. I've even seen casework where the dovetails were nailed.

What's important to know is that these antique nails are different from modern nails in shape, surface texture and how they are driven into the work. However, you can use these differences to your advantage to produce joinery that is stronger than if you had used modern nails.

If you build furniture reproductions or pieces that are inspired by the past, learning to use this old-style nail will help you add authentic details to your work and it will make your joinery stronger.

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